Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest

Oct 14, 2019
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While thumbing through some old blog posts today, I found this one I wrote a decade ago. It definitely has information worth repeating!

Research from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia shows that "consumer debt...plays a powerful role in eroding the quality of married life."

Here are excerpts from the Project’s report, "Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest," authored by Jeffrey Dew, an assistant professor of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University:

Consumer debt fuels a sense of financial unease among couples, and increases the likelihood that they will fight over money matters; moreover, this financial unease casts a pall over marriages in general, raising the likelihood that couples will argue over issues other than money and decreasing the time they spend with one another....

Consumer debt is also an equal-opportunity marriage destroyer. It does not matter if couples are rich or poor, working class or middle class. If they accrue substantial debt, it puts a strain on their marriage.

Assets, on the other hand, sweeten and solidify the ties between spouses. Assets minimize any sense of financial unease that couples feel, with the result that they experience less conflict....

[C]onflict over money matters is one of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared with disagreements over other topics, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.... Not surprisingly, new research that I have done indicates that conflict over money matters predicts divorce better than other types of disagreement....

Clearly, money matters play a crucial role in shaping the quality and stability of married life in the U.S.... In particular, couples who are wise enough to steer clear of materialism and consumer debt are much more likely to enjoy connubial bliss (emphasis added).

Over the years, I’ve given The Sound Mind Investing Handbook to several newlywed couples. Seems like a great investment toward a long, healthy, and happy marriage!

Written by

Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife has been a news writer for the Associated Press, a college instructor, and a radio host. He and his wife Joye have three grown sons.

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